by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Children at every grade level are still performing worse in math and reading than they were before start of COVID, data from 7.3 million standardized tests across the US reveals.
The study, released this week by standardized test provider Renaissance Learning Inc., revealed that a return to in-person learning in the latter half of the last school year has seen standardized test scores improve across the county.
However, students are still lagging well behind pre-pandemic levels.
The firm analyzed reading scores for 4.4 million students from kindergarten to 12th grade in all 50 states, as well as 2.9 million students’ math marks during the 2020 and 2021 school years.
It found student performance during the second year of the pandemic was markedly worse than the first year, with each state seeing marked declines in 2021, suggesting remote learning has had a lasting – and negative – impact on student achievement.
It also found that children are still performing worse at every level in math and reading than before remote learning was introduced.
However, when it came to the change in scores for the tests – which are given to students twice a year, first in the fall and then in the winter – the study found that the winter marks had improved slightly, indicating some improvement in the latter part of 2021, when students started to head back to school in person.
According to the firm, on average, reading scores recorded during the 2021–2022 school year were nine points lower in the fall, compared to 3 points lower in the winter, relative to the same scores during the prior school year.
Meanwhile, in math, scores were eight points lower in autumn, which rose slightly to just 3 points lower in winter.
With that said, the marks are still below the level of the 2019-2020 school year, before remote learning was implemented in response to the pandemic.